When homeless people beg for change, strangers often open their hearts and wallets. But one woman in Richmond, Virginia, had become too aggressive in her panhandling. Because of this, two men decided to confront her – and what they discovered was shocking.
Micha Leigh Dominguez was a figure well known to many people in Richmond. Indeed, she could often be seen panhandling on the median in the road at various intersections in the city. And her attitude had become infamous – even more so after, one day, she was caught on camera.
Even though we know Dominguez is about 40 years old, other details about her life remain a mystery. Thanks to the viral video taken of her, though, her behavior towards others is now well documented. In the clip, she is shown begging for change from passing cars. As they stop at the light, Dominguez subsequently approaches them while shaking a large envelope.
And this routine might have continued for months, or even years, without anyone thinking any ill of Dominguez. That is, if it hadn’t have been for her aggressive tactics. Indeed, Dominguez had garnered a reputation for angry exchanges with people who wouldn’t cough up any money.
Furthermore, the viral video wasn’t the first time that she had been caught on film behaving badly. Earlier footage shot by a woman waiting at the light, for instance, shows Dominguez being very hostile. While wearing a large parka jacket, Dominguez is seen seemingly enraged at being filmed while begging, before swearing and making offensive gestures at the camera.
Perhaps with this previous footage and Dominguez’s reputation in mind, two Richmond men decided that they’d had enough of this strange woman. As a result, they filmed her as she begged on the median, walking up and down while cars waited. And, to start with, her behavior already seemed highly suspicious.
They subsequently followed Dominguez in their car as she left the spot, and the second part of their video begins after they tracked her to a fast food outlet’s parking lot. This was the point, moreover, when the terrible truth about the panhandler was apparently revealed.
In the video, Dominguez is seen sorting through her things on the hood of a 2014 Fiat SUV. It turned out that this was her car, leading the men to believe that she wasn’t actually homeless. What’s more, it seemed as if she might not even be that poor.
Meanwhile, during the video shot by the two men, Dominguez subsequently notices the camera and is clearly suspicious at being filmed. However, the men wait until they’ve got a clear shot of her face before accusing her of being a fraud. She reacts to that assertion by threatening to call the police.
That accusation may have seemed mean on the surface; after all, homeless people live incredibly hard lives. What’s more, many are only homeless in the first place because of bad luck, bankruptcy or mental health issues. They are often then trapped in a spiral of destitution and therefore beg only as a last resort.
On the other hand, Dominguez may not really be homeless at all. Although few firm details have been revealed so far, her accusers deduced that she probably had some other source of income. And that’s a fair assumption, some might say, given the apparent age and cost of her vehicle.
After being called out in the video, though, Dominguez seems to panic and then tries to draw staff from the restaurant into the confrontation. She also appears to pretend that she doesn’t understand the accusations that are being leveled at her and, again and again, threatens to call the police.
At any point, Dominguez could have gotten in her car and driven away. Perhaps she chose not to because it might incriminate her, although there is some evidence that suggests the car doesn’t belong to her. According to Curt Autry of NBC12, the car may in fact be a rental.
But when the authorities eventually became involved, it wasn’t because Dominguez had finally been caught in her lie. Instead, it was because she actually called them herself. In other words, things seemingly didn’t go the way she had planned.
After the video of her and her car had spread across Richmond, local people were understandably angry. Dominguez was even being accosted by people who saw her on the median. Plus, someone allegedly stood next to her one day with a sign reading, “This woman is not homeless.”
At some point after the video went viral, moreover, Dominguez clearly lost her composure. She subsequently threw full bottles of Gatorade at a parked car and then called the police to complain about harassment. And, considering her attitude in the original video, it’s perhaps not all that surprising that she’d eventually lashed out.
However, instead of protecting Dominguez from the angry locals, the police arrested her. After all, she had been throwing Gatorade “missiles” at a car. Inadvertently, though, that course of action may have allowed Dominguez to escape the criticism of residents in the area – if only temporarily, during the time that she was at the police station.
What’s more, her story even made the news across the United States. Nonetheless, the main questions remained unanswered – who was this person, and how did she get away with scamming people for so long? Well, a subsequent social media post from someone in Richmond may shed some light on the matter.
According to a Facebook post by Steve Hebblethwaite, she is part of a gypsy group who panhandle all over Virginia. Furthermore, he has asserted that the group has at least three cars, including Dominguez’s Fiat. But although these allegations may turn out to be true, at present they remain uncorroborated and therefore should be treated as rumor rather than fact.
Homeless people live a day-to-day struggle, chiefly relying on the kindness of strangers. By contrast, Micha Leigh Dominguez’s actions appear to be an insult to the hardships that they endure. Indeed, they could even result in members of the public becoming yet more suspicious of those who live on the streets.